Oh the joys of beautiful, warm, and really long days….Alaska has been so delightful the last few months it has caused us to forget any pains we may have felt in the winter. It is hard sometimes to remember that we are not on vacation. We have finally figured out how to make ourselves go to bed even though daylight is still abundant. Despite the fact that we still have full work weeks, plenty of exploration and fun has been had.
First, I went to Utah. My reason was not a happy one but I did get to see my whole family! My Grandpa Grant, one of my most favorite people, will continue to influence many even though he is no longer physically with us.
Second, Nicholas went to Juneau for a law conference. I was able to join him for a few days. By the time I arrived he, in true Nicholas fashion, was my most knowledgeable tour guide. Highlights of the trip: whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier, Patsy Ann (Juneau’s most famous dog…only because they’ve never met Ansel), the monster refillable popcorn serving as both dinner and movie snack, the eagle conservatory (AKA the dump…a well-kept secret), watching the cruise ships dock, the governors house, our very ‘classy’ hotel that came with a ‘classy’ cleaning lady who very loudly exclaimed her love of cleaning up after people (oh wait, I don’t think those were words of love…), and of course the Fechter duo (Bri-guy and John Boy). With the Fechter duo came Bri-guys land lady’s most unusual and somewhat terrifying van. Perhaps we should not have been so judgmental of it because it probably could have got us to the airport on time for our flight. The bus was not so reliable and though we still were there 30 minutes before take off, that clearly was not enough time for us to go through security, which had no line, and make it to the one and only gate (maybe there were two). We managed though and made it out on a later flight.
Third, Memorial Day weekend meant camping, hiking, hot springs, and canoeing for us. A couple weeks later we went back to the hot springs but this time on bikes. I placed second fastest for my group. Did the fact that I was competing against 8 year olds and 80 year olds lessen my feelings of awesomeness? Absolutely not!
Fourth, we celebrated our third anniversary by going to Denali National Park. We threw our mountain bikes and back packs on the transport bus and enjoyed an exceptionally clear sky (meaning we could see the elusive mountain the whole time) as we slowly made our way to Wonder Lake Campground. I say enjoyed because at that point we had no idea the terror that awaited us. I must use this time to apologize to all those I mocked (usually behind their backs) for wearing mosquito nets. I got what was coming to me. The unfortunate buggers were unbearable. We ended up spending most our afternoon in the tent while they dive bombed us like mad. The one brave move we made to leave was a failure. We jumped on our bikes and tried to outride them but they were too good for us and evasion was futile. We spent the rest of the evening safe in our tent forgoing dinner as it was not worth it. The next day was spent at Eielson where the wind helped keep the mosquitos at bay. We hiked down into the river bed and spent most of the afternoon there. This part of our trip made any annoyances worth it. The mountain was out all day and it was pretty addictive. We could not stop looking at it in all it’s glory. Mount McKinley is pretty incredible and Denali National Park is a world wonder.
Fifth, we celebrated the fourth of July in Fairbanks. Signing up for cable only a few days before was either a good thing or a bad thing. We were like little children seeing motion pictures for the first time….in awe. It certainly kept us entertained all weekend. We did make our way outdoors a few times. We enjoyed Pioneer Park, an airplane show, a fire in our backyard, and hmmm the couch was pretty nice!
Lastly, I had the opportunity to visit Barrow (AKA the top of the world) and a small village called Nuiqsut for work. The plane that took us from Barrow to Nuiqsut seated a pilot, a co-pilot, and six passengers. The view was a unique, mesmerizing beautiful that I have never seen before. It was quite the experience and I only wish my boys would have been with me. They make everything more fun. I am quite sure that as long as I have them with me I will be a most happy individual.